Interview by Elena Orde for The Vegan magazine http://www.vegansociety.com
Chantal Poulin Durocher uses her artistic skills to raise awareness of vegan issues and support animal rights causes
When did you go vegan?
A few years ago, I saw a post on Facebook saying that there is more animal suffering in a glass of milk than in a steak. It really caught my attention, and I did some research and discovered the truth of the dairy industry. My husband and I watched the documentary Earthlings, and that was it. We have been vegan since then. There are now so many alternatives and options that it was pretty easy to make the transition. Being vegan is a daily joy, and I feel like a stronger person than before.
What kind of art supplies do you use?
Even though I live in Panama, it is very easy for me to find vegan art supplies. I draw with plant charcoal, then I fix the drawing with Krylov Fixative, which is vegan. I paint on organic linen or hemp, and only use synthetic brushes. I use Winsor and Newton fine colours, and I do my own colour mixing. I also use Pentel pastels –they contain no animal ingredients and are not tested on animals.
What does your work day look like?
A normal day for me begins with a short meditation. Then, I usually take our rescue dogs for a walk on the beach, and a swim in the river. After that, we wash all the dogs, because the salt and the sand is bad for their skin. Then I have breakfast, answer emails, do a bit of social media activism and go to the studio. After that, I don’t see time passing. I can spend up to eight hours painting. At the end of the day I love to take the dogs out again to play in the waves, and have a walk. I go into town maybe once a month. I much prefer a peaceful environment, so I feel very lucky to be able to live here, away from all the activities of the city.
Tell us about your rescue dogs
When my husband and I moved to Central America in 2008, we faced a new reality … the fact that there are many abandoned animals, and no government shelters. We decided to do what we could to help. First we met two abandoned female dogs, and decided to take them in. After that another one arrived, and another one … in 2011 we were living with 12 dogs. Then somebody left a box in front of our house with two beautiful puppies, full of ticks and fleas. What could we do but bathe them, treat them, and adopt them. It is a lot of work to take care of so many dogs, but when I look at them, all healthy, happy and loved, it brings me so much joy.
What message does your art promote?
I paint oversized portraits of animals because I want my work to reflect the fact that animals should have a big place in our society. Animals are far too often left behind, and I want to bring them into the forefront of everyone’s minds. I want them to be admired and loved as much as I love them. People should love them for what they are – beautiful, peaceful sentient beings that want to live and not suffer, just like us. I use my portraits to show their peaceful nature, and their innocence, and hopefully send the message, “Please stop hurting us.” I want to raise awareness that these beautiful beings are here with us, not for us.
Do you take part in any other kind of vegan activism?
Because I became vegan after seeing a post on social media, I want to give back what I received by posting vegan news and discoveries. I share my knowledge about how animals are treated in the hope that others will become vegan. I also give paintings to organisations that denounce animal cruelty, to help them to raise money. It is a small contribution, but it makes me really happy to know I can help even a little bit.
How do you combat activist burnout?
Some days, I feel insignificant in the face of the amount of work we have to do. But I have a lot of friends all over the world, who do wonderful things to help animals, so when I think about that it gives me hope and happiness. It is the animals’ suffering that gives me the boost to create, to try and change things. I feel I really have to do something. I am lucky enough to live on the beach, and so when I really want to change my ideas, I go for a swim with my doggies.
What is your advice to others who wish to promote veganism?
I think each of us has a different approach, and that is only a good thing. Some people will be touched more by art, others by movies or pictures, and others by books. I think that every effort, as long as it is a peaceful one, is worth it. And I really believe that one day, not too far from today, people will understand the truth.
Please check out Chantal’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Chantal-Poulin-Durocher-103394076414851/?fref=ts
And her website http://www.chantalpoulindurocher.com